One of my first memories is that of a garden. Not an ordinary garden mind you, but one of many vibrant colors. To my newly opened eyes it was as if the colors of the rainbow had burst forth like rain to paint the flowers that rose from the earthen bed. At first it was like a painter’s palette with no discernible shapes, and then as my eyes came into focus things became clearer: stems, blossoms, petals, blooms, and a tiny pair of hands reaching for me. She was a child, much like myself, but instead of four tiny paws, she only had two, and they were hairless with claws that were soft flesh. I made a noise as these paws touched me and took me into her embrace. It was a cooing kind of purr that came from within me and it was the only way I knew to articulate I liked this. There was something about being cradled close to her that was soothing.
My eyes found her face and I thought what a beautiful child she was. The sound from her throat and lips was like a lilting song designed to make me feel less afraid. But I wasn’t afraid of her, nor of the garden. Her face almost glowed looking into mine and as her big brown eyes dripped water I realized she was not that small but merely had been behaving that way for my benefit. Now with her watery eyes and pursed lips I saw she was not of innocence as I was, but her short life had been hard and of a sorrow that had not yet left her.
“Has your mother left you, too?” she asked.
I tried to tell her I couldn’t remember, but the only thing that came out was a soft purr that made her smile.
“Purr to you, too," she said.
I let the girl clutch me to her and I felt an instant sense of companionship between us, as if we were long lost sisters or something.
“What should we name you?” she asked. She put one hand on her chin as if it might help her think. Finally she smiled. “I know. We’ll call you Nomi.” She lifted me up to her face and looked into my eyes. My whiskers twitched. “What do you think of that?” she asked.
“Purr,” I said, giving her a kiss on the nose. It wasn’t exactly a kiss, but more of a tap of my nose against hers, to which she giggled.
“Great! Nomi it is.”
She sat me back down on the ground. I rolled over on my back trying to scratch an itch I couldn’t reach. The girl laughed and lay down on her back in the garden too, mimicking my actions so we looked like two siblings from different mothers playing in the garden of life.